Melton: Justices throw out ‘holiday’ mansion appeal

A DECISION to prevent a Suffolk mansion from being let as holiday accommodation has been upheld by justices at the Court of Appeal.

The owner of St Audry’s House in Melton, near Woodbridge, faces the threat of criminal prosecution if the property is not returned to a family home.

Last summer an independent planning inspector backed Suffolk Coastal District Council’s decision to take enforcement action over the nine-bedroom home being marketed for self-catering holiday purposes.

The building, which formed part of the old St Audry’s hospital, had been advertised since 2008 as sleeping up to 20 people - but planning permission was never sought or granted for the change of use from a family home.

An appeal against the enforcement notice was made by Sheila Moore through her company Prestige Holiday Lettings, based in Aldeburgh, but was overturned by planning inspector Stephen Brown and the High Court.

The Court of Appeal has now upheld the notice and ruled that breach of such a notice can lead to criminal penalties.

Ms Moore argued that the property’s permitted use as a dwelling was wide enough to encompass not only occupation by an individual or family as a permanent home, but also commercial letting to tourists.

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She also argued that the enforcement notice was so widely drafted as to close down her letting business at

Dismissing her appeal, Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Longmore, said: “As a matter of common sense, this particular use for holiday lettings is very far removed from the permitted use as a dwelling house and material change of use has occurred.

“The notice is not perfect, but no better alternative has been suggested.”

The district council maintained that the property’s use as holiday accommodation had sparked a series of complaints from neighbouring residents about noise and general disturbance. A spokesman said: “Suffolk Coastal is very pleased that the Court of Appeal has upheld the enforcement notice. It will be particularly welcome news for the large number of neighbouring residents who made representations to the council and planning inspector, and have since followed the legal challenges to his decision, setting out their significant concerns at the levels of noise and nuisance this holiday property has caused to their local area when large groups of people have let the property.

“We hope that this case will assist other local planning authorities who have to deal with similar situations. Many holiday or similar lettings occur without problems for the community in which they are located, but in this case as Lord Justice Sullivan said, common sense indicated that there had been a material change of use vindicating this council’s firm but proportionate response to the concerns raised by local residents.”

Prestige Holiday Lettings has six months from the date of the latest judgement to comply with the decision and to return St Audry’s House to a family home.